Aspiring migrants, local crises, and the imagination of futures 'away from home'
Ellen Bal (VU University Amsterdam)
Arts Classhall F
Start time:
25 August, 2010 at 11:30
Session slots:


All over the world, (coalitions of) nation-states have taken to the 'fortification' of their borders to safeguard security and to obstruct immigration. At the same time, however, growing numbers of people cross national borders, in their quest for human security. The human costs of these contradictory interests can be extremely dramatic and lead to the compelling question as to why people are ready to take great risks to get to their aspired destinies. Yet, the processes through which such compelling migration aspirations develop and how they impact local lives have been notably understudied. Most migration studies have overlooked the fact that migration considerations are always socially embedded and culturally informed (Cf. Åkesson 2004, Haas 2008, Jónsson 2008). Some do however pay attention to 'the culture of migration' and argue that 'successful' migration causes migration (e.g., Kandel and Massey 2002) while others have studied how migration has contributed to local imaginings of different places which, in turn, structure peoples' aspirations and dreams (e.g. Gardner 1995, 2008). All these studies pivot on migration. This panel goes beyond the study of the dreams of wannabe migrants as a question of migration only. It takes into account that many dreams are never materialized and that a comprehensive study of imagined futures 'away from home' need not directly relate to migrant successes. It approaches those imaginations as intricate ingredients of the wider interconnections between globalisation and socio-cultural, political and economic transformations 'back home'.